Slovakia is another one of those countries that has a long history of gold mining and gold mining that most people do not know about. As with many countries in Eastern Europe it also seems to have just very small sections of the country that are known for producing gold. Let’s take a look at the past and present state of finding gold in this beautiful Eastern European Country.
The History of Gold in Slovakia
People have been finding gold in Slovakia dating back over 2000 years. The most well-known site is the volcanic gold fields in an area known as the Kremnica Mountains; these mountains are located almost in the direct center of the country. The first record of subsurface mining here dates all the way back to the 9th Century which makes Slovakia one of the oldest known gold producing countries in Europe.
The city of Kremnica itself is home to the world’s oldest known mint which dates back to 1335. It produced popular coins called ‘Kremnica ducats’ which eventually became used as an international method of payment because of the consistent high quality of the gold that was used to produce them. The town brought a lot of prosperity to the region and in the 16th century many precious religious artifacts were minted from the gold that was found there too.
Panning for gold in the country also dates back many centuries with the last known gold rush to have taken place in the 13th century and this gold panning was mostly centered near the town of Písek. The name Písek itself literally means ‘gold found in sand’. The Otava River that runs through the region was at one time very rich with gold in the sands that were panned there.
Modern day Gold Prospecting
Companies have been lobbying to mine ore in open pits near the same area that gold has been panned near Písek (near the town of Mokrsko) but the project has run into stiff resistance from environmental groups. The problem being, that the gold is present only in fine particles in the ore and the only process which is cost effective to get it out is by using the controversial cyanide leaching method. Needless to say, this commercial venture is currently on hold as both companies and environmental groups continue to debate the issue.
It is the same volcanic gold fields near Kremnica where most of the mining activity still takes place today. What is known as the Šturec Project is a commercial gold exploring undertaking that is currently being run by a UK company called Ortac Resources. They are after the estimated 1.32 million ounces of gold that the area is expected to yield over the next several years. Currently gold is being extracted at a cost of $600 an ounce and as long as gold prices stay high enough to make the process profitable, there is enough gold in the ground to keep the process going well into the future.
So even though Slovakia does not look to be a major player in the world’s gold production, it surely does look like it will at least be a consistent gold producing country into the foreseeable future.